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Rodgers: Criticism of Harrell harsh, unfair

Aug 20, 2012 -- 4:18pm
 
Photo/Associated Press via ESPN.com

GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers continues to have Graham Harrell’s back. Now, the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback just wishes the second- and third-stringers playing with his backup would do the same.

Rodgers again voiced public support for Harrell, who has been up-and-down in his first two preseason games as Rodgers’ primary backup this preseason, in the wake of Matt Flynn’s free-agent departure to Seattle.

Harrell enters Thursday night’s third preseason game at Cincinnati having completed 27 of 51 passes (52.9 percent) for 235 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions for a 55.6 passer rating. Rodgers, meanwhile, is 8 for 19 for 75 yards with a touchdown and an interception for a 49.2 rating.

Rodgers took the backups to task during his weekly media availability at his locker Monday, calling out those units for not playing better for Harrell.

“That unit has to play better,” Rodgers said. “The front, they have not played very well. And at the skill positions there have been some poor play as well. You have to have guys around you making plays and (Harrell) has to do a better job decision-making and making the throws he knows he can make.”

Harrell has faced added public scrutiny after two respected NFL national reporters suggested the Packers would be possible trade partners for a backup. ESPN’s Adam Schefter suggested the Packers would be interested in the Cleveland Browns former starter Colt McCoy, and CBS Sports’ Jason LaCanfora suggested this week that the Packers might trade for Seattle Seahawks ex-starter Tarvaris Jackson.

“We’ve been happy with Graham,” offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. “Sometimes it’s just looking at the game and the situation he’s in. Everyone focuses on, if the offense isn’t successful it’s the quarterback’s fault. That isn’t necessarily the case. He’s missed a few throws, but a lot of times he’s made good throws and he’s had to avoid people. He’s doing a good job and we’re happy with his progress.

“The quarterback has a job to do on each play, and as long as he’s doing his job and giving more often than not the receivers a chance to catch the ball, you can make an evaluation. Sometimes in the preseason, you have younger guys in there and he’s not as well tuned with the offense and makes mistakes. And sometimes the quarterback does, too. Offensively, you need 11 guys doing the same thing to hopefully have a chance to succeed. And if one guy is not doing the right thing, it’s a problem. If you have multiple guys doing the wrong thing, it’s more of a problem.”

Rodgers is expected to play the first half Thursday night, but given that he’s played a total of one series in the past two preseason finales – he didn’t suit up for the 2010 finale – Harrell figures to play a lot in the Aug. 30 game against Kansas City.

“I hope he plays very well. I think he’s been doing a good job and probably unfairly taken some harsh criticism at times,” Rodgers said. “I can tell you, like I said after the game, I don’t think anybody in this locker room or the coaching staff is worried about Graham or doesn’t have confidence in Graham. It’s the preseason. Some stuff can happen at times to make it difficult to be successful. I’ve been there before. I also had some good stretches where I put some good games together and I think Graham is capable of doing the same thing with that unit.“

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